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Thomas J. Crowley has turned to fiction after retiring from his career as a professor of psychiatry. He has authored more than 180 scientific papers and book chapters.
“Death Diminishes” will disconcert many readers, for it is a very unusual kind of story. Its primary interest consists in showing how an addiction therapist thinks and functions. It also shows that therapists, like their patients, are human beings.
As a result, the story proceeds like a classical tragedy. The patient, Dr. Karnik, and the therapist, Dr. Everston, resemble each other by their family and marital histories, and both are lonely men. But Dr. Karnik has a tragic flaw: drug addiction. The reading audience — including Dr. Everston — are spectators who can only watch as a foreordained fate unfolds according to Karnik’s inexorable logic.
For example: Can Everston point out to Karnik that the life-insurance company will not settle Karnik’s wife’s claim when the company discovers — as it inevitably will — that Karnik was a drug addict? What does Everston know? Perhaps Karnik is making a cynical ploy, one that is so transparent that it needn’t be mentioned. In any event, Everston is functioning as an addiction therapist, not as a marriage counselor or insurance adjustor.
Ironically, perhaps, Dr. Everston acts somewhat like a Bewildering Stories review reader. How can Karnik’s story do better what it is supposed to do? And how can it be written otherwise unless Karnik is persuaded that life is worth living and that he must reinvent himself?
Tom Crowley’s bio sketch can be found here.
Welcome to Bewildering Stories, Tom. We hope to hear from you again soon and often!
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